The Crunge: A Tale of the Skeletal Man (Part 2)

2

The skeletal man was an ace at cards. Took all my money and I’m pretty damn good.

Everything was fine until that goddamn cloaked fella started yappin’ on about his money. I had left the room before the incident began. The raised voices and commotion drew me back in to see the skeletal man standing with a pistol pointed at him. The cloaked man demanding repayment of lost cash. I thought at that moment the life of the skeletal man and everyone else on this ship was at stake. If he shot him why not shoot all of us.Most killers are pretty stead fast on the hope of no witnesses. Witnesses were abound.

Then, out of nowhere the cloaked man fell dead. All seemed back to normal. That is until I approached the skeletal man, had a few drinks and was asked to help him stop the Crunge.

“I’m no fighter. I’m fat.”

“Who said anything about fighting? Sure a gun may be involved, fisticuffs are out of the question.”

“So it’s not human?”

“In a sense.”

“If you want my help I need you to stop being so cryptic.”

“What we are going to be fighting will look human. The Crunge is like a parasite that takes home along it’s hosts spinal column, injecting itself into the brain and assuming control. The host dies, the Crunge dies.”

“How will I know who is infected. I’m not going to kill innocent people. I have to be one hundred percent on this.”

“You’ll see through my eyes.”

“How is that possible?”

“To question what is possible and that that is im is irresponsible in these times. There are possibilities within the universe that you will never know. Just accept what I will tell you and your life will be grander for it.”

“So if I accept what do we do, go through extensive training, only then, that we know we can handle the charge we go full steam ahead.”

“Actually, as soon as you say yes we head to Earth and kill as many of the fuckers as we can.”

“Wait…what…”

3

Hank Barker turned out to be a cracker jack shot. During the four days it took to arrive on Earth he practiced non-stop in the firing range I had built onto my ship for just this occasion.

When it came time for him to put his skills to use there were no questions asked. He ended the target’s life be it man, woman, child. He saw the truth of what they were, shells for a parasitic virus.

*

I never thought twice when Charlie sent me on a hit. I saw the creatures that lay inside each person. The vile that was stealing their humanity. I was their only hope. I was their savior from a life of imprisonment. A single gunshot to the head was all it took to free them. I felt powerful. I was doing good. I would no longer be the fat piece of shit that lost at poker. I would be respected. Children would look up to me, they’d want to be me. I was saving their future.

*

I showed him the truth after his final hit. I sent him into the coffee shop as soon as I exited. It was to look like a robbery. He entered demanding money, instead he opened fire. Killing all that occupied the establishment. It wasn’t until the last body fell to the floor that I released the veil I placed over his eyes. He saw the atrocity for which he had just committed. Killing innocent men, women, and children.
He fell to his knees. Tears streaming down his face. His dreams of heroism crushed. He would be hated. Disgust would be heard in the vernacular of his spoken name.

He brought the gun to his temple and fired one shot in between tears. Taking his life for being nothing more than a homicidal pawn in a game I was controlling. A game who’s ending was far from over.

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